Saturday, June 15, 2024

The EU has to back Zelenskyy’s peace plan — free Ukraine’s best hope

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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent in any way the editorial position of Euronews.

By delivering a clear message of support and following these words with action, Germany and other European leaders can support millions at risk of famine worldwide and put an end to Putin’s attempts to drive a wedge between Africa and Europe, Neven Mimica writes.


As Putin wages an ongoing illegal war and invasion, the rest of Europe is watching as Ukraine shows a resilience and spirit unseen in many nations. This resilience not only comes in the form of standing up to Russia’s aggression but also through maintaining its international commitments to those in the world suffering from the risk of famine and malnutrition. 

The European Union remains a strong supportive partner for Ukraine, and the €50 billion aid package, supported strongly by Germany and approved at the end of January, is making a crucial difference in keeping Ukraine in this fight for its homeland and values. 

However, financial backing and military aid cannot be the entirety of Germany and the EU’s support. Many diplomatic avenues from the EU’s vast resources are yet to be applied to generate renewed support for the Grain from Ukraine Initiative amongst those who might not be aware of its vital role in tackling global food insecurity.

The importance of this programme cannot be understated, with the disruption to supply chains caused by Russia’s invasion bringing at least 70 million people worldwide to the verge of starvation.

Germany itself does continue to provide key financial support to the programme, including contributing financially to the transport and distribution of shipments to countries in the Global South.

However, as a key figurehead within Europe, Germany must go further in using its influence to reaffirm support across the continent for Ukraine’s global contributions. 

‘Breadbasket of the world’ still helps those in need

A key opportunity to galvanise these diplomatic avenues will be at the peace summit in Switzerland on 15-16 June, which will see world leaders gather to discuss how Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s peace plan can become a reality.

Through its participation, the EU has an opportunity to use each Commissioner’s resources to make a case for why it is in the global interest to support all the articles of this plan — to secure enduring peace. 

Grain from Ukraine and the broader issue of food security is one of the central pillars of this. As a Goodwill Ambassador for this programme, I see first-hand how Ukraine is committed to standing by its allies in the Global South and continuing in its role as one of the “breadbaskets” of the world, even while its food shipments navigate constant threat from Russian naval forces patrolling the Black Sea. 

Between the end of the grain deal in July of last year and the end of this February, we have shipped over 20 million tonnes of grain to 42 countries, supporting areas that are at most risk of famine due to environmental effects or regional conflict.

In Nigeria, where conflict has displaced over 2.2 million people and left another 4.4 million in food insecurity, Ukraine sent a shipment of 25,000 tonnes of grain to Port Harcourt in February to alleviate the risks of famine. 

The stark fact is that Russia has weaponised food shortages throughout the continent to drive a block between African countries and future Ukrainian support. Russia’s constant threat to humanitarian ships passing out of the Black shows the levels of depravity Putin will go to destroy Ukraine and build an anti-Western sentiment in Africa through these internal conditions. 

We need to clearly show what Putin’s ambitions are

Unfortunately, Putin’s forces continue to have success in their destabilisation efforts. We are seeing a rise in regional conflict, with nations such as Libya a gateway for Wagner forces to fuel regional internal divisions.

Key European Union member states like Germany must go further, using all their diplomatic, economic and soft power to engage with African nations to share the message of what Putin’s ambitions are for the continent. 

Every lever must be used to see Zelenskyy’s peace formula realised and Putin’s ambitions kept in check. With over 160 countries invited to attend, leaders will work to build a joint peace framework that seeks to de-weaponise food insecurity and allow Grain from Ukraine to continue lifting millions out of the immediate risk of famine. 

As the European Union continues its wider efforts to support Ukraine on the battlefield, it is time to expand this focus and do all in its power to put an end to President Putin’s wider weaponisation of global hunger.   

Therefore, I call on the European Commission to live up to its leading global role in official development assistance by announcing at the forthcoming Peace Summit its contribution of at least €200 million from its international partnerships, humanitarian aid, and enlargement funding allocations to the Grain from Ukraine Initiative, which would match all already pledged contributions by other donors. 

By delivering a clear message of support and following these words with action, Germany and other European leaders can support millions at risk of famine worldwide and put an end to Putin’s attempts to drive a wedge between Africa and Europe.


Neven Mimica is a Goodwill Ambassador for President Zelenskyy’s Grain from Ukraine Initiative. He is former deputy prime minister of Croatia and diplomat who served as European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development from 2014 to 2019.

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